Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maypoles are Italian too!

But we don't cover it up with the pretense of ribbons and children. We plant the pole in the ground. There it is. piantarmaggio. ("planting May") Lots of bawdy double entendres about "planting" happen all month long! There are various legends about how this festival came to be, but it's so old that it has been recorded for over one thousand years. More about that on Sunday. Why wait? Because before May is planted, it is rung in with door to door singing, aka cantamaggio. It's like christmas carols, but in this case, the song are bawdy!

"...groups of local maggiaioli (lit. “men of May”) make their way from farmhouse to farmhouse, singing folk songs and playing simple contadino (peasant) instruments... The lyrics of these songs ostensibly speak of nature and the seasons, but veil lighthearted double entendres... As the serenade ends the singers invite their audience, with much raucous laughter, to return to bed and “seed May.”

Before that happens, the singers are given breakfast foods to enjoy when their night of singing is done in the morning.  More on that from the original post

May festivals are celebrated throughout Italy. Here's a description of one in Umbria. Here is a link to a thesis done on the cantamaggio. It will download a pdf when you click the link. I like it! It's even in English! LOL It's a quick read and worth it. They even get into the origins of the festival, tho they attribute the popularity in Italy to celebrations of May 1st in Rome. It's the Times Square ball drop again. Yeah NYC does it biggest (and best! Hey, I'm a New Yorker), but other cities and towns celebrate New Year's Eve too.

Yeah! Who wants to come over tomorrow night to sing in May? \o/


  1. That was awesome!! I think that song will be in my head all day.. if only I knew what the words were lol

  2. I am so going to repost this and send people here (with your permission). Thank you for finding the info. I've been looking for this for a while. (I hate doing research!). - Vinnie